Manufacturers’ Monthly caught up with CSR Limited’s trailblazing property development manager and the winner of the prestigious “Rising Star of the Year” award at this year’s Women in Industry Awards, Allison Basford, to find out what makes her tick.
CSR is one of the oldest public companies in Australia, being established in 1855. The company has had a long history in Australian manufacturing in areas of sugar, building materials and other diverse commercial ventures.
The company’s culture is one where they embrace change, are innovative in serving the market sectors in which they operate and understand that their greatest assets are their people who deliver high quality results to customers. CSR takes a long-term view in developing both its assets and its people and by investing in both, they firmly believe that they will have a strong future.
Allison Basford has been working at CSR Limited for 18 months, joining CSR’s Group Property as a development manager with the goal of executing the strategy on their core portfolio of freehold assets.
“Working closely with general managers across a number of business units, has provided me with insights into their corporate challenges and a deep understanding of their operating environment. Taking the time to appreciate this eco system has allowed me to deliver better holistic outcomes for the broader business at an accelerated pace,” Basford said.
“I have grown up in an environment where helping others has always been a part of day to day life. Property development by nature is a transformational journey. Being at a point in my career which allows mentoring of others, to help them develop is an aspect of my role that genuinely keeps me deeply fulfilled,” she said.
Basford said that this involvement keeps CSR at the forefront of change and thus able to influence the building of smarter cities and communities for the next generation.
“As the face of CSR at the Property Council of Australia (PCA) on their Industrial and Logistics Committee, my volunteered time is spent focusing on issues relevant to the growth of employment, lands policy and associated planning and infrastructure delivery frameworks,” she said.
Key projects worked on
Upon joining CSR Limited, Basford worked, for a large proportion of her time, on a $75m development project for a highly automated Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC) plant located on the Central Coast.
“I am responsible for managing regulatory approvals, government and political relations, compliance and environmental matters, building and infrastructure procurement and construction delivery. Successful implementation with an integrated team has meant it is now recognised in the industry as what will be the most sophisticated AAC plant in the world currently,” she said.
“Demonstrating capability on this development has paved the way to leading various work streams to co- locate various CSR business divisions together,” she added.
Basford told Manufacturers’ Monthly that the vision for this project is to create an Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Hub on CSR’s flagship 200-hectare site in western Sydney to transform the way CSR operates as a business.
The importance of gender diversity
Basford believes that diversity is a multi-faceted concept and when looked at one dimensionally is limiting.
“We are all unique humans with various traits being gender, nationality, culture, age, education, religion, family composition and more.
“By focusing intently on one dimension, without considering the flow on impacts to our male counterparts, we will be doing ourselves a disservice and potentially driving positive discrimination,” she said.
“Having said that, I do acknowledge that the industry I work in is heavily male dominated and driving gender equality as a first base is a great starting point to catalyse the change required. This will hopefully enable improvements in diversity generally to truly flow through,” she said.
Going beyond the stars in diversity
Basford said that sometimes the biggest barrier women face in business could be themselves.
“We tend to be quite hard on ourselves and can even trick ourselves into thinking we are not capable enough or worthy enough of an opportunity. In my own personal experience, once I made a conscious shift in how I perceived myself and became comfortable in my own skin, I then took ownership of ‘Allison’s personal role’ in diversity,” said Basford.
“I am grateful for this award because it has raised my professional profile to a point where people can relate to my story, and realise that no matter what challenges they face, with the right attitude and work ethic and willingness to keep on trekking, change really is inevitable,” she said.
“Employing a candidate that goes on to win this sort of accolade means that, as an organisation, CSR is attracting the industry’s best talent. It also demonstrates that they have recognised the positive impacts a diverse team has on sound decision making and, as a result, are promoting an inclusive workforce which is fantastic,” she said.